A white professor at Howard University is under investigation for holding what has been called a mock slave auction in his classroom.
The class was covering Frederick Douglass’ slave narrative when the professor singled out one of the only two black men in the room. He went on to discuss how slaves were examined before they were purchased.
The professor asked the black “healthy” looking student to stand up, saying he looked “like the type of slave buyers would look for.” The professor then asked the student to “turn around so we can see your buttocks,” in order to get a better sense as to what the “slave” would be worth.
At this point the class spoke up in disgust and the black student sat down.
“Personally I’m upset because I feel as though you can’t really have a mock slave auction at an HBCU, especially a professor of a different race,” stated student Corey Jefferson. “I feel a little bit disrespected by that because I feel like we are past that. That was years before this and now we are at a different age. It doesn’t feel right.”
“It’s very disappointing to hear that, especially a professor anywhere [and] here at Howard,” said Grant Edwards, another student. “I guess we just got to hope to understand why he would choose to do that and try to move on from there. Kind of to understand how to prevent that and why that would be a necessary thing.”
The student who was put on display said he originally stood up because he had no idea the professor would say and do the things that he did. He said he would have sat down soon, but he was shocked.
The spokesperson for Howard University has said, “The university is aware of the incident and is investigating the matter.”